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NFCA’s "Featured Five" Games for March 5-8

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Throughout the 2015 softball season, those of us at the NFCA will feature some of the sport’s highest-profile contests in our “Featured Five” Games of the Week segment.

 

Each weekly installment will be released on Thursday, providing live stat links, game notes, returnee info, Twitter accounts and any available broadcast links in hopes of becoming another source for fans to visit during the season for information on some of collegiate softball’s best games.

As the year continues, we will attempt to expand our focus to include match-ups throughout as many divisions as possible. This week’s featured games come from NCAA Division I, NCAA Division II and Division III.

We may not be able to highlight every division or big game each week, but our hope is to provide a spotlight for as many different teams and games as possible throughout 2015.

Make sure you follow the NFCA on social media through Twitter (@NFCAorg) and on Facebook (NFCA) and let us know what you think of our new “Featured Five” segment.

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#1 Florida (22-0) vs. #3 Michigan (19-1)

Tournament/Site: Judi Garman Classic | Titan Softball Complex / Anderson Family Field | Fullerton, Calif.

Date/ Game Time: Thursday, March 5 (1:30 PT)

Coverage: Live Stats | Radio (Florida)

Follow them on Twitter: @GatorZoneSBall | @umichsoftball

Previews (Game Notes): Florida (Notes) | Michigan (Notes)

* A rematch of the Feb. 7 contest in which the Gators eked out a 2-1 victory over the Wolverines in Tampa, Fla… Both squad recorded just two hits… It was Florida’s second game and Michigan’s first game of the season…After Michigan evened the game with a two-out double in the top of the seventh, a two-out wild pitch allowed the Gators to earn the hard fought win.

Florida: The Gators continue its nine-day, 11-game California road trip at the Judi Garman Classic hosted by Cal State Fullerton… Top ranked Florida extended its unbeaten start to 22 games with a 10-1 win over Long Beach State on Wednesday… 22-0 matches last year’s undefeated start the second longest in program history (24-0 in 2011)… The Gators have won their first 22 games by a combined margin of 177-21 with 11 shutouts and 11 run-rule victories.. Reigning NFCA National Pitcher of the Week Delanie Gourley is coming off a 2-0 week in which she shut out No. 2 Oregon, one of Florida’s four opponents this weekend… Gourley (6-0, 0.56, 58 K) is part of a three-person rotation that has posted a 0.57 ERA with 197 strikeouts to just 25 walks, while holding opponents to a .136 batting average… Along with her 9-0 record and 0.45 ERA, Lauren Haeger is batting .377 with three doubles, seven home runs, 28 RBI and 20 runs scored… Kelsey Stewart (.371) and Bailey Castro (.340) have each scored a team-best 21 runs and are second on the squad with five long balls apiece… Along with Michigan, Florida takes on No. 2 Oregon, No. 13 Arizona, San Jose State and Fresno State (RV).

Michigan: The Wolverines are one of the hottest teams entering this matchup after shutting out host Cal State Fullerton, 9-0 earlier this week… After dropping its opener to Florida, Michigan has reeled off 19 straight, the third longest active winning streak in the country behind the Gators and LSU, both at 22 games… One of the keys to this run are their bats… After opening the season with a .212 effort at the USF Softball Classic, U-M has improved every week; .305 at the Unconquered Invitational, .360 at the Easton Bama Bash and .442 — with 20 home runs — at the ASU Louisville Slugger Invitational… The 20 home runs last weekend more than doubled their season output to 35… Sierra Romero is batting an even .500 (21-42) with a six home runs, 23 RBI and 25 runs scored, all team bests… Kelsey Susalla is batting .421 with a team-best 24 hits, seven doubles and two triples to go along with five long balls, 22 RBI and 13 runs scored… In the circle, the staff is posting a 1.36 ERA with six shutouts and 117 strikeouts… Sara Driesenga has a team-best 0.78 ERA, while Haylie Wagner is 7-1 with a 1.54 ERA and Megan Betsa has a team-best eight wins and 58 strikeouts… Along with the Gators, the Wolverines will also face and No.9 Baylor, No. 22 Arizona State, San Jose State and San Diego State… Michigan is 6-1 this season against the top-25.

Some Additional Major Division I Games This Weekend:

At Judi Garman Classic (Full Schedule)
#22 Arizona State (15-7) vs. #3 Michigan (19-1) (3/5 at 10:30 AM PT) 
#13 Arizona (19-3) vs. #1 Florida (22-0) (3/6 at 9:30 AM PT)
#9 Baylor (12-2) vs. #22 Arizona State (15-7) (3/6 at 12:00 PT) 
#2 Oregon (17-2) vs. #1 Florida (22-0) (3/6 at 2:30 PT)
#3 Michigan (19-1) vs. #9 Baylor (12-2) (3/6 at 5:30 PT)
RV Cal State Fullerton (13-9) vs. #14 Auburn (22-1) (3/6 at 8:00 PT)  Live Stats | Video | Audio
#14 Auburn (22-1) vs. #22 Arizona State (15-7) (3/7 at 3:00 PT) 
#13 Arizona (19-3) vs. No. 9 Baylor (12-2) (3/8 at 12:00 PT)

#8 Georgia (19-2) at RV Mississippi State (17-3) (3/6 at 5:30 CT / 3/7-8 at 1:00 CT) – Links to SECN+, SECN & Live Stats
#7 Louisiana Lafayette (15-2) at No. 24 South Alabama (15-3) (3/7 at 12:00 CT / 3/8 at 1:00 CT) – Live Stats | Live Video

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Division II
#22 North Alabama (16-1, 5-0) at #2 Valdosta State (18-2, 7-1) – Gulf South Series

Site: Steel’s Diamond at Blazer Park| Valdosta, Ga.

Date/ Game Time: Sat.-Sun., March 7-8 | 3:00 (DH) / 1:00 

Coverage: Live Stats | Video

Social Media: @UNAsoftball | @VStateSoftball

* Valdosta State’s Courtney Albritton has hit 74 career home runs and is just five shy of the all-time NCAA Division II mark of 79 held by Kutztown’s Steph Denlinger (2006-09)

North Alabama Tidbits: The Lions entered the polls for the first time season and are riding a nine-game winning streak into this conference series against the Blazers… UNA is up one game in the loss column over VSU for first place… The Lions picked up a doubleheader road sweep at Montevallo on Wednesday…  UNA is getting it done offensively, defensively and in the circle… The Lions are batting .350 with three starters at .411 or better and four more above the .300 mark; their pitching staff is posting a 1.03 ERA and holding opponents to a .183 average, while the defense has committed just six errors in 433 attempts for a .986 fielding percentage… Brittany Gillison is batting .462 (24-52) with three doubles, a triple, three homers, 23 RBI and 10 runs scored… Madeline Lee is at .459 (17-37) with six doubles, 10 RBI and 13 runs scored, while Abby Olinger is batting .411 (23-56) with six doubles, three long balls, 23 RBI and 16 runs scored.. Hillary Carpenter and BreeAnna Blevins see most of the action in the circle… Carpenter is a staff-best 8-0 with a 0.76 ERA, three shutouts and 45 strikeouts, and is holding opponents to a .188 average… Blevins (7-1, 1.43) leads the staff with 57 strikeouts, 49 innings, and a .174 opponents batting average with two shutouts and three complete games.

Valdosta State Tidbits: Coming off a non-conference doubleheader sweep of Florida Southern, VSU has won eight straight and 16 of its last 17 contests… Albritton is makes offense click from the leadoff spot, batting a team-high .548 (34-62) with a triple, 12 home runs, 21 RBI and 33 runs scored, all team-bests…  In addition, she boasts a .1.161 slugging and .638 on base percentage… She is part of a balanced offense that bats .319 with four batters hitting .333 or better, 24 home runs and has scored 151 runs… Jamie Phillips is at .388 (19-49) with eight doubles, four long balls, 16 RBI and 21 runs scored, while FranJohnson is hitting .352 (19-54) with three home runs, 17 RBI, 18 runs and 10 stolen bases in 10 attempts… In the circle, Caitlyn Calhoun is 10-1 with a 1.08 ERA, four shutouts, 11 complete games and 87 strikeouts in 71 innings, while holding her opponents to a .155 average.

Some Additional Major Division II Games This Weekend:

#21 Indianapolis (3-3) vs. Southern New Hampshire (8-2) (3/6 at 1:00 – Cleremont, Fla.)
#23 West Virginia Wesleyan (0-0) vs. RV California (Pa.) (0-0) (3/7 at 1:00 – Cleremont, Fla.)
#12 Arkansas Tech (8-2) at Southeastern Oklahoma State (8-7) (3/7-8 at 1:00) Live Stats
RV Shorter (10-3) at #9 Alabama Huntsville (11-4) (3/7-8 at 2:00 & 1:00) Live Stats
#7 West Chester (0-0) vs. RV Southern Indiana (6-0) (3/8 at 9:00 – Cleremont, Fla.)

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#10 Kentucky (13-3) at #20 Texas A&M (17-4) – SEC Series 

Site: Aggie Softball Conference | College Station, Texas

Date/ Game Time: Fri.-Sun. March 6-8 | 6:30, 3:00, 12:00 CT

Coverage: Live Stats | SEC Network+  (G1 / G2) / G3 (Watch ESPN & SEC Network) | Radio 1620 AM (Fri. & Sun.) / 1510 AM (Sat.)

Previews (Game Notes): Kentucky

Follow them on Twitter: @UKSoftball | @aggiesoftball

Kentucky Tidbits: The Wildcats have won seven of their last eight games as they head into their SEC opener at Texas A&M… Kentucky is coming off a doubleheader sweep at Tennessee Tech last Saturday after its trip to the Frost Classic was canceled… The Wildcats are hitting .319 as a team with 102 runs and 29 stolen bases… Sylver Samuel paces the team with a .404 average (21-52) with 18 runs, a triple, eight stolen bases and a .456 OBP… Griffin Joiner is hitting .396 (19-48) with four doubles, a triple and four home runs and 23 RBI… In the circle Kelsey Nunley leads the pitching staff, sitting at 5-1 with a 1.97 ERA in 42.2 innings… Two of her wins have come against ranked foes and opponents are batting just .220 against her this season… Meagan Prince is 7-2 with a 2.20 ERA in a team-high 47.2 innings and 42 strikeouts.

Texas A&M Tidbits: The Aggies have won 10 straight coming into the opening weekend of SEC play when they host Kentucky… Texas A&M is 9-2 at home… Their last loss was a 4-1 defeat to No. 2 Oregon… Brittany Clopton leads the squad with a .379 average and to go along with three doubles, nine RBI, 19 runs scored and a team-best 8-for-8 in stolen bases… Tori Vidales bats .317 with a team-best six home runs, .667 slugging percentage and 20 RBI… Katie Marks (6-0) leads the pitching staff with a 1.12 ERA and a .206 batting average against in 10 appearances (5 starts)… Rachel Fox is the go Aggie of the pitching staff as she is 10-3 (1.98 ERA) with a team-high 81.1 innings, 14 appearances, 13 starts, three shutouts and 67 punchouts.

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#13 Arizona (19-3) vs. #14 Auburn (21-1)

Tournament/Site: Judi Garman Classic | Titan Softball Complex / Anderson Family Field | Fullerton, Calif.

Date/ Game Time: Fri., March 6 (5:30 PT)

Coverage: Live Stats |  Live Audio (Auburn)

Follow them on Twitter: @UA_Softball | @Auburn_Softball

Previews (Game Notes): Arizona (Notes) | Auburn (Notes)

Arizona Tidbits: The Wildcats are coming off a home doubleheader sweep of UNLV and have won eight straight… UA heads to the Judi Garman Classic for the 32nd consecutive season… Arizona has participated in the tournament, formerly known as the CSFU Pony Invitational, Pony-Louisville Slugger and Kia Klassic, every year since 1984… Arizona is 120-49 all-time at the event… Nine different Wildcats have hit home runs already this season… The Wildcats have scored more runs (184) than opponents have total hits (117)… Three-time Pac-12 Freshman of the Week Trish Parks has helped the Wildcats on both sides of the ball… At the plate, she is batting .400 (20-50) with four home runs and 16 RBI, while she is 8-1 with a 2.29 ERA and 35 strikeouts in a team high 52 innings… Kellie Fox paces the Wildcats offensive that has one-through-nine hitting .300 or better… She is batting .444 (28-62) with three doubles, three triples, three homers, 24 RBI, 22 runs, a .730 slugging percentage and .560 OBP… Katiyana Mauga (.362) and Chelsea Goodacre (.300) lead the squad with eight long balls apiece, while knocking in 25 and a team-high 36 RBI, respectively… Michelle Floyd is 8-2 (2.20) with 55 strikeouts in 51 innings of work, while holding opponents to a .195 average… In addition to Auburn, Arizona will face No. 1 Florida, No. 9 Baylor, Fresno State (RV) and Long Beach State. 

Auburn Tidbits: The Tigers head out on the road for their toughest test of the season when it faces No. 13 Arizona as part of a stacked field at the Judi Garman Classic… Auburn has won eight straight and are off to its best 22-game start in school history (21-1)… Along with the Wildcats, head coach Clint Myers, for the first time, will face his old team, No. 22 Arizona State, where he won two National Championships… The Tiger offense, which is averaging just under 10 runs and over two long balls per contest, has out scored their opponents 217-48 this season with 86 of those runs coming in the first frame… Four players, Kasey Cooper, Jade Rhodes, Haley Fagan and Emily Carosone, are tied with a team-best seven home runs as the Tigers lead the SEC with 45 home runs as well as runs scored (217), hits (210), RBI (200), doubles (37) and walks (127)… Tiffany Howard is batting a team-high .559 (33-59) with five doubles, four triples, 12 RBI and 32 runs… Carosone had knocked in and scored a team-best 30 and 33 runs… The pitching staff has a combined ERA of 2.15 with 115 strikeouts… Rachael Walters is 7-0 with a staff-best 1.37 ERA and .181 opponents batting average, while striking out 43 in 41 innings of work… Lexi Davis is a team-best 10-0 with a 1.99 ERA and 47 punchouts, while holding opponents to .207 batting average… The Tigers will also face host Cal State Fullerton (RV), Long Beach State and Pacific.

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Division III

#3 East Texas Baptist (3-0) at Mary Hardin-Baylor

Site: Dee Dillon Field | Belton, Texas

Dates/Game Times: Fri., March 6 (5 & 7 p.m. ET) & Sat., March 7 (1 p.m.)

Coverage: Live Stats | Live Video

Follow them on Twitter: @ETBU_Softball | @CruSoftball

ETBU Tidbits: The Tigers continue to be ranked third in the NFCA Division III Top 25 poll and is the only team in the top three in the rankings to play this season, though they have had five straight games cancelled since a three-game American Southwest Conference sweep of Hardin-Simmons on Feb. 13-14 during which they outscored the Cowgirls 31-5. … East Texas Baptist posted a school-record 45 wins and tied for fifth at the NCAA Division III Championship in 2014. … NFCA All-American designated hitter/right fielder Jayme Perez (.556, two homers, six RBI), now a sophomore, is again providing the power and junior Kelly Jo McLendon (2-0, 0.00 ERA, three hits, one unearned run, 10 strikeouts and one walk in 10 innings) and graduate student Shelby Parker (1-0, 2.57 ERA, seven hits, four runs, eight strikeouts and no walks in seven innings) are still controlling in the circle. … Senior outfielder Sara Clements (.571, doubles, three RBI, four steals) is back from an injury that ended her 2014 season and sophomore shortstop Kaitlyn Hollingshead (.667, two doubles, five RBI), senior outfielder Kayla Garcia (.556, two doubles, two RBI, three steals) and senior third baseman Maranda Westbrook (.500, two RBI, three runs, three steals) are all off to a good start.

Mary Hardin-Baylor Tidbits: The (6-4) Crusaders head back to American Southwest Conference play after being run-ruled twice by Division I Sam Houston State on Tuesday to snap a three-game win streak and victories in five of their previous six games. … Freshman utility player Karley Free (nine runs, three doubles, homer, eight RBI) and sophomore catcher Cori Drake (seven runs, three doubles, homer, nine RBI) are both hitting .412 (14-for-34) over the first 10 games to lead the offense, while senior outfielder Janie Neyland (.382) and sophomore infielder Emily Marrs (.364) are also excelling. … Sophomore right-hander Haley Parker (2.56 ERA, 25 hits, 10 walks and 12 strikeouts in 27.1 innings) leads the four-person pitching staff with a 3-1 record and two shutouts. … Freshman righties Karen Tennis (1-0, 12 earned runs, six walks and 11 strikeouts over 13.1 innings) and Olivia Curtis (1-1, 18 hits and seven earned runs over seven innings), and sophomore righty Tiffany Birdwell (1-2, 15.2 innings) have also seen action in the circle for a team allowing 3.5 runs per game while scoring 5.6 themselves.

Some Additional Major Division III Games This Weekend:

#23 DePauw (4-0) at #16 Emory (6-0) (3/8 at 9:00 a.m. – Atlanta, Ga.) Live Stats

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